The making of Mitt Romney: A look at his faith journey
After an invocation by a Latter-day Saint at the Republican National Convention, Mitt Romney accepted the nomination.
October 27th, 2012
10:00 PM ET

The making of Mitt Romney: A look at his faith journey

By Jessica Ravitz, CNN

Editor’s Note: An earlier version of this story ran last year, as part of a series about the faith lives of the leading Republican presidential candidates. With the exception of an August interview done by CNN Chief Political Analyst Gloria Borger for her documentary “Romney Revealed: Family, Faith and the Road to Power,”  which airs  Sunday, October 28, and Saturday, November 3, at 8 p.m. ET on CNN, all other interviews were conducted in the fall of 2011. CNN has also profiled President Obama’s faith life during his time in the White House.

 (CNN) – A cop arrived at the roadside wreckage of a June 1968 head-on collision in southern France, took one quick look at the Citroën’s unresponsive driver and scrawled into the young man’s American passport, “Il est mort” - “He is dead.”

The man at the Citroën’s wheel was Mitt Romney, who may have appeared dead but was very much alive – as is his hope to become the next president of the United States.

Romney was serving as a missionary for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, or the LDS Church, when tragedy struck. It was a time of turmoil both in France and in the United States. Protests against the Vietnam War raged on, as did French disdain for Americans. Robert Kennedy had recently been assassinated, as had Martin Luther King Jr. a couple months earlier. France was still reeling from a May marked by riots, student demonstrations and crippling worker strikes.

There were six people in the car Romney was driving when friends say an oncoming speeding Mercedes, driven by a Catholic priest, veered into his lane. Among the passengers was mission president Duane Anderson – Romney was serving as his assistant – and Anderson’s wife. Anderson was injured, and Leola Anderson, 57, was killed. Like her husband, she’d been a parent figure to the approximate 180 Mormon missionaries in the field - their surrogate mother away from home. Now, she was gone.

“I don’t think [Romney] went around blaming himself, but in talking about it he’d shed some tears,” remembered Dane McBride, a fellow missionary and Romney friend ever since. “It was a very heavy experience for a 21-year-old.”

The mission president left France for six weeks to bury his wife and heal. A gloom spread over the mission field. Conversions in the country dropped, along with Latter-day Saint spirits.

These young men and women, who were already deep in a trying spiritual rite of passage, had to grow up and prove themselves in new ways.

In spite of his grief and a broken arm, Romney and a missionary companion – they always work in pairs – took charge. They traveled around the country visiting the others. Romney lifted up deflated missionaries with silly made-up songs. He taught them to visualize all they could accomplish and challenged them to raise their expectations, McBride said.

Romney increased the conversion goal for the year by 40%, believing France’s  Mormon missionaries could and would recharge. In the end they surpassed Romney’s goal of baptizing 200 new members into the church.

It wasn’t such a stretch, though, for Romney to distinguish himself. Throughout his life, he’s been rooted in a faith that – whether he talks about it or not – helped shape the man who would president.

‘An American running for president’

Romney hopes the nation is ready to embrace a president who happens to be Mormon.

But he has faced questions about his faith since first getting into politics in 1994, when he ran for U.S. Senate in Massachusetts against Democratic stalwart Ted Kennedy. When Kennedy’s nephew, Joe, attacked Romney’s Mormonism, the insult drew a strong public response from Romney’s father – a former governor of Michigan who’d himself run for president - and failed to gain traction.

Since then Romney, who was elected governor of Massachusetts in 2003, has played down his faith on the campaign trail. But he did  address it in a December 2007 speech, hoping to stem voter concerns about his religion and how it might influence him as a president. It was a speech he likened to John F. Kennedy’s famous 1960 address, when Kennedy was running to be America’s first Catholic president.

“Almost 50 years ago another candidate from Massachusetts explained that he was an American running for president, not a Catholic running for president,” Romney said. “Like him, I am an American running for president. I do not define my candidacy by my religion. A person should not be elected because of his faith nor should he be rejected because of his faith.”

“No candidate should become the spokesman for his faith,” Romney said, declaring that if he was  elected president, he would “serve no one religion, no one group, no one cause, and no one interest.”

“A president must serve only the common cause of the people of the United States,” he said. “I believe in my Mormon faith, and I endeavor to live by it. My faith is the faith of my fathers. I will be true to them and to my beliefs. Some believe that such a confession of my faith will sink my candidacy. If they are right, so be it.”

Whether Romney’s confession of faith helped sink him is a subject of debate. He hoped to deflect the focus on his religion while not speaking to Mormon doctrine or specific beliefs. In the whole speech, he mentioned the word Mormon only once.

This time around, Romney decided to forego a speech on his faith, but that doesn’t mean he was immune to pesky background noise about it. After introducing Texas Gov. Rick Perry at a Values Voter Summit last fall, Pastor Robert Jeffress said Republicans shouldn’t vote for Romney because Mormonism is a “cult.” 

And only after a sit-down meeting earlier this month with the Rev. Billy Graham and his son Franklin Graham, did the cult reference to Mormonism get scrubbed from the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association’s website.

It’s hard to know how much Romney’s faith matters to the public, but recent polls suggest that at least to the majority of voters, it makes little or no difference.

A survey released in late July by the Pew Research Center showed that 60% of voters knew that he was Mormon, and of those who knew 8-out-of-10 were either comfortable with his faith or didn’t really care.

Another survey by Pew showed that only 16% of voters wished they knew more about Romney’s religious beliefs. Far more hungered for further details about his tax returns and his records as governor and at Bain Capital.

But in a tight election, if even a small minority of Americans withhold their votes from Romney because of his religion, it could cost him the White House.

For months, Romney’s campaign made it clear that it didn’t want to discuss his beliefs. Repeated attempts last fall to speak with the candidate, his wife, his children, his siblings - and, really, just anyone – about Romney’s faith journey were denied by campaign headquarters.

Even the reins it had on those outside the inner circle appeared tight. A local LDS Church leader in Michigan, contacted in hopes of finding childhood friends, forwarded CNN’s inquiry to campaign headquarters - prompting yet another slap down.

“What makes no sense to me is how you continue to push forward in writing about Gov. Romney’s faith journey when we’ve made it clear in every way possible that this is not a story we want to participate in,” campaign spokeswoman Andrea Saul wrote in an email.

But Romney has been somewhat more open about his religion since then. He and his wife, Ann, sat down separately with CNN Chief Political Analyst Gloria Borger for her documentary, “Romney Revealed: Family, Faith and the Road to Power,” which first aired just before the Republican National Convention.

In the documentary, Romney shared how his mission in France fortified his faith and how church leadership roles in Boston would later strengthen his beliefs further.

He invited reporters to attend church with him in August, allowing the unremarkable typical Sunday service to speak for itself. People who’ve known him through the LDS Church took center stage at the convention, speaking to his character.

In August, Romney invited members of the press to join him for Sunday LDS Church services.

But Romney generally moved through the campaign guarding details about his Mormonism. He spoke about religion in broad strokes. He continued to avoid details and doctrine.

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During a May commencement address at Liberty University, the Christian school founded by the late Rev. Jerry Falwell, he didn’t utter the M-word. Under the watchful eyes of millions as he accepted the Republican nomination for president in August, he said it once.

Growing up while abroad

The 19-year-old Mitt Romney who showed up for missionary training was different than the rest.

“Mitt stood out from everyone else,” said Byron Hansen, who flew with Romney to France in July 1966. “He already spoke French pretty darn good, while the rest of us knew ‘bonjour’ and ‘au revoir.’ He immediately jumped out as a leader.”

Romney, like many of the other young men called by church leaders to serve, had finished a year of college before he got his missionary calling. But he’d gone to prestigious Stanford University and came from a privileged and powerful background.

He was worldly, not intimidated, and he was eager to interact with people of different backgrounds, said Hansen, who owns a car dealership in Brigham City, Utah. “All the rest of us from no-name Utah had never been more than 500 miles away from home.”

Despite the comforts he’d known growing up, Romney wasn’t spoiled. Some apartments that housed missionaries around France lacked heat and water, but had plenty of fleas. Those sorts of conditions likely made Romney appreciate all the more the luxuries of the mission home, located in the ritziest part of Paris, where he worked and lived during the latter part of his two-and-a-half year mission. He and the others there were fed by a Spanish cook and enjoyed the benefits of maids.

What’s more, said fellow missionary and friend Dane McBride, the young men learned what time of day to peer through windows to watch Brigitte Bardot walk her poodles.

The scenery aside, “it was the nicest office I ever worked in,” said McBride, now an allergist and immunologist in Roanoke, Virginia.

Throughout his mission, Romney was the first to get out of bed each morning, forever focused on his goals and the lessons he’d teach, and he stayed gung-ho even when others faltered, Hansen said.

Romney didn’t shy away from approaching anyone. On Saturdays, a free day for missionaries, he’d be done with his laundry by 9 a.m. and coaxing everyone else out the door for bike rides in the mountains, tours in new places or football games.

“He was never one to sit around,” Hansen said. “You had to run to keep up with Mitt.”

He was both pragmatic and creative when it came to sharing Mormon teachings, McBride said.

“Neither of us cared for knocking on doors much,” said McBride, referring to the typical tact for Mormon proselytizing. “But we did it. We did it a lot.”

However, Romney was a big proponent of what McBride called “creative contacting.” In lieu of going door-to-door, he preferred to encourage conversations by building sidewalk kiosks or inviting French locals to play baseball or attend evening parties with American themes – complete with Western wear and guitar strumming.

Being a missionary in largely secular France deepened Romney’s faith because it forced him to wrestle with challenges, steep himself in study and prayer and face plenty of rejection, McBride said. Like others, Romney was no stranger to doors being slammed in his face or getting his behind kicked while heading down apartment stairwells.

“When you’re off in a foreign place and you only talk to your parents once or twice a year by phone – that’s all that’s allowed – and you’re out speaking to people day in and day out about your faith and your religion and differences between your faith and other faiths…you say, ‘OK, what’s important here? What do I believe? What’s truth? Is there a God? Is Jesus Christ the son of God?’” Romney said to Borger in August.

“These questions are no longer academic. They’re critical because you’re talking about that day in and day out. And so I read the Scripture with much more interest and concern and sought to draw closer to God through my own prayer,” he said. “And these things drew me closer to the eternal and convinced me that in fact there is a God. Jesus Christ is the son of God and my savior, and these are things that continue to be important in my life, of course.”

Religious roots that run deep and strong

The groundwork for Romney’s faith journey was laid long before he put on a suit and, armed with his Book of Mormon, boarded a flight for France.

He comes from a long line of Latter-day Saints. Those who like to highlight what makes him different might point to how one of his great-grandfathers fled to Mexico, about 125 years ago, amid U.S. government crackdowns on what Mormons refer to as “plural marriage.” But many multigenerational Mormon families have polygamists in their family tree.

Plural marriage was introduced by church founder Joseph Smith but was officially banned by the church in 1890. Some 38,000 people aligned with fundamentalist offshoots of the LDS Church still practice polygamy, but they are a far cry and completely separate from the 14 million worldwide members in Romney’s church.

Romney’s late father, George Romney, was from modest means. He was born in Mexico to monogamous U.S.-born parents and left during the Mexican Revolution when he was 5. He went on to be CEO and chairman of the now-defunct American Motors Corporation, governor of Michigan and a presidential candidate in 1968.

Mitt Romney with his father, George Romney, who made his own mark as a leader in business, the LDS Church and politics.

Growing up Mormon in Michigan made Mitt Romney a member of a distinct minority. There were fewer than 8,000 Mormons in the state in 1945, two years before he was born, according to the LDS Church. It’s been reported that he was the only Mormon in his high school. While Mormon students in Utah could simply stroll across the street from school to attend early morning seminary before the first bell, longtime friend McBride said Romney didn’t have that easy, built-in outlet to strengthen his faith amid peers.

“Neither of us had benefited from that,” said McBride, who also grew up as a Mormon minority, in Iowa and North Carolina. “We had been called on in school to defend our faith many times. … I remember from fifth grade on needing to defend my religion.”

But Romney, in his Republican nomination acceptance speech, shared a different take on growing up in the Mormon minority: “That might have seemed unusual or out of place, but I really don’t remember it that way. My friends cared more about what sports teams we followed than what church we went to.”

Romney’s family, though, was active in the church. In 1952, his father was named Michigan’s first stake president. A stake is comparable to a diocese and has under its umbrella multiple “wards” or congregations, much as a diocese consists of parishes.

The LDS Church does not rely on professional clergy. Instead, church members are called to serve as volunteer leaders while holding down paid jobs. Church leaders rely on other volunteers as advisers. For instance, a ward bishop has two counselors, while a stake president confers with a high council of 12.

Being Michigan’s sole stake president meant Romney’s father – in addition to his full-time corporate work – oversaw ward operations, was the spiritual guide for the Latter-day Saint community and relayed messages from church headquarters in Salt Lake City.

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Like many practicing Mormons, the Romneys enjoyed “family home evening” every Monday, a time reserved to pray, study and sing together, McBride said.

Romney has spoken publicly about how his parents took him and his three siblings on mobile American history lessons, McBride said, loading up the family Rambler for cross-country tours to national parks, with stops at places like Mount Rushmore, Valley Forge and Williamsburg.

But McBride said the family also likely visited LDS historical sites, including points along the path westward traveled by Mormon pioneers who followed the call of Joseph Smith’s successor, Brigham Young, and trekked through treacherous conditions to arrive in 1847 in what is now Utah.

While Romney’s parents made sure their children were deeply connected to their country and their faith, Romney didn’t reside in a Mormon bubble. He was part of a bigger and more diverse world.

Ann Davies, the woman he fell for and now calls his wife, was Episcopalian when he met her during high school, and he knew she was the one for him.

After he left for college and then his mission, she began studying Mormonism, attended church with Romney’s parents and converted. Romney returned from France and proposed to her immediately. After a civil ceremony in Michigan, the two were married and “sealed” for eternity in 1969 during a sacred ceremony in the Salt Lake Temple.

The couple returned to college and began a family at church-owned Brigham Young University in Provo, Utah, before moving to Boston, where Romney earned law and business degrees at Harvard.

Serving his LDS community

Romney rose in local church leadership while making his corporate mark. Along the way he applied many of the skills he’d displayed earlier, including his knack as a young missionary for turning challenges into possibilities.

In the 1980s and early 1990s, he served as a ward bishop – or part-time pastor – and stake president for the Boston area.

Romney delivered sermons, counseled couples, and made middle-of-the-night hospital runs. He monitored budgets, weighed welfare needs of immigrants and others, and drove outreach to different faith communities. He showed up at the homes of Latter-day Saints in need of help, taking on tasks such as removing bees’ nests.

“There’s… no one who is full-time with the church to care for the sick and visit the poor,” Romney told Borger. “And so the church comes and says, ‘We’d like you to do that, Mitt.’ … Talk about a growing-up experience and a learning experience.”

Philip Barlow, a professor of Mormon history and culture and the director of the religious studies program at Utah State University, served as a one of two counselors to Bishop Romney in the early 1980s.

Each Saturday, the counselors would meet with Romney in his home in Belmont, a suburb northwest of Boston. And while the work was serious, it didn’t mean Romney always was. Barlow recalled the time Romney busted out with a rendition of Michael Jackson’s “Billie Jean” and did a formidable moonwalk across the floor.

“The media is always reporting that he can come across as too polished,” Barlow said. “But there’s a real person there.”

Romney also was the kind of leader who built bridges with those suspicious of Mormons. When a chapel under construction in Belmont burned to the ground amid ongoing anti-Mormon sentiment, he turned the perceived arson attack into opportunity.

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“It was an inspired move,” said Grant Bennett, who at one time served as a counselor to Romney when he was a bishop and later served on the Boston stake’s high council under Romney when he was president.

Non-Mormon houses of worship offered their buildings to accommodate the needs of the displaced Latter-day Saints during the chapel’s reconstruction. While it would have been easier to pick one place to call a temporary home for services, classes and meetings, Romney accepted every viable offer he received – thereby forcing a rotation of interaction with different faith communities.

Experiencing the kindness of strangers offered relief to Mormons who had been feeling “a little under siege,” said Bennett, who first got to know Romney through church in 1978 and worked with him for five years at Bain & Company, the global consulting firm that Romney eventually led as CEO.

“In a religious context, Mormons are very good at serving each other and are often hesitant to accept help,” he said. “I think Mitt had the fundamental insight … that we’d be better off and [the other churches would] be blessed by helping us.”

It was the sort of decision perhaps born of being in the minority in Michigan and learning early to honor religious pluralism, said Bennett, now president and CEO of CPS Technologies, a high-tech manufacturing firm in the Boston area.

On the campaign trail and with media, Romney has tried to focus on matters other than faith.

In his religious roles, Romney had to delegate and call others to serve. Sometimes he believed in people more than they believed in themselves.

Andy Anderson, a retired researcher and writer in Kaysville, Utah, first got to know Romney amid tragedy. It was Anderson’s mother who was killed in the 1968 car wreck in France, and when his father returned to Paris, Anderson, his wife and children went along.

When Romney later moved to Anderson’s neighborhood in Massachusetts, Anderson said he helped Romney and his family settle in.

In 1989, Anderson said he was minding his own research business when Romney, then the Boston stake president, called him for a meeting. A group of new converts Anderson described as “Cambodian boat people” – united formally as a “branch,” which is smaller and less developed than a ward - had suddenly lost its president without warning.

In shock, he listened as Romney said, “Guess who’s the next branch president?”

Anderson said he’d been raised to accept church callings. But between the language barrier with the Cambodians, the cultural differences, the poverty and the responsibility, this one seemed too much. He begged and pleaded with Romney. He told him he was unqualified, that he’d “never been president of anything.” He said, “It sounds like a really bad fit, Mitt.” But Romney wasn’t swayed.

“Andy, you know where this comes from,” Romney answered, referring to the Mormon belief that God can reveal truths to individuals. “It’s not me. You go talk to Him and tell me when you’re ready.”

For the next three years Anderson said he oversaw the poorest people in the Boston stake. The overwhelming task “nearly killed me,” he said. But along the way he not only fell in love with the community, he learned to believe in himself and see that he could be a leader.

“I count Mitt as a friend, and it has been a real pleasure to work under him,” he said. “If he was a real pain to work for, I’d know it. I’ve worked for people in the church I couldn’t stand.”

Women’s view of Romney

The Romney reviews from Latter-day Saint women in the Boston area were more mixed.

In the early 1970s, as the feminist movement gained steam, a group of Mormon women began gathering in Cambridge to explore the history of women in their church. They were looking for role models, stories that would inspire them.

With the help of LDS Church historians, they learned about their female ancestors and wrote a book, “Mormon Sisters: Women in Early Utah.” They discovered that a women’s newspaper, Women’s Exponent, was published in the late-19th and early-20th centuries and featured women’s writings that Judy Dushku described as “very feminist in their views.”

“We were reading about women we’d never heard of before,” said Dushku, a Suffolk University professor of government with an interest in gender and comparative politics. She and other “founding mothers” were moved to start a new publication, now a quarterly magazine: Exponent II.

That decision, however, was not received well by the LDS Church, Dushku said. She said the fact that it was independent and had no stamp of approval from church higher-ups, all of them men, rubbed some - including Romney - the wrong way.

Dushku said Romney encouraged friends to tell their wives not to participate. He made it clear he didn’t want the women behind the publication holding meetings on church property. Dushku and the others suspected it was under his direction that copies of the magazine displayed in congregations got dumped in wastebaskets.

The LDS Church is patriarchal in nature. Only men can serve as bishops, stake presidents and in higher leadership roles, including the combined post of church president and prophet. Only men are welcome in the priesthood, which in Mormon circles means having the authority, for example, to perform baptisms and offer sacramental blessings.

Dushku decided she could live with this and remains a faithful Mormon. She said she and the others simply wanted an outlet for women to discuss issues unique to them. And while what they created may have seemed “radical” back then, she says there are Mormon women bloggers today who push boundaries much more than Exponent II ever did.

What got to Dushku about Romney was less his reaction to the magazine and more how she saw him treat women he was in a position to comfort and support as a local church leader.

Dushku has told the story of a woman, a mother of four, who was pressured by then-Bishop Romney to go forward with a pregnancy despite advice from doctors that a medical complication made it too dangerous.

She also recalled the story of a meeting between Romney and a woman whose ex-husband had been excommunicated from the church because of numerous affairs he’d had while serving as a bishop.

The woman asked Dushku to accompany her to the meeting, where Romney encouraged the woman to forgive her philandering ex so he could be re-baptized into the church and marry another woman.

The problem, Dushku said, is that the husband had never bothered to apologize to the wife he’d hurt, a fact she said Romney didn’t seem to care much about.

When she began speaking out to media, Dushku said she was flooded with responses from Facebook friends. Most of the reactions were positive, thanking her for her courage.

But some friends suggested she back off.

“How can you blame someone who has so many responsibilities?” one friend wrote. “He was young,” said another. “People change.”

Dushku said she affords Romney the possibility he may have changed, that he might handle such situations differently today.

“But compassion is a character quality,” she said. “I doubt he’s much different now.”

Her take on Romney, though, doesn’t jibe with that of Helen Claire Sievers, executive director of Harvard’s WorldTeach program, which brings volunteer teachers to developing countries.

Sievers, who’s been involved with Exponent II on and off since its inception, was the Boston stake activity director when Romney was stake president. She recalled being at a meeting in Dushku’s house in Watertown, outside of Boston, when women began wondering aloud about how their local church might better empower women.

“Often leadership in the Mormon church tends to pull far to the right, to out-orthodox the orthodox,” said Sievers, who later proposed to Romney that he should meet with the Boston LDS women to hear their frustrations and suggestions. Romney was willing to have such a meeting, even though it bucked the comfort level of church headquarters.

“I was really impressed that Mitt felt strongly that even if he could get in trouble with the hierarchy, he really wanted to hear what the women that were under his stewardship had to say so that they would feel as comfortable as possible in church,” Sievers said.

As a result of the meeting, which drew more than 150 participants, Sievers said adjustments were made, including allowing women to say opening prayers at church meetings. Romney didn’t have the power to change church doctrine, but Sievers said he could and did bend the norm to make women feel heard and more respected.

“Many Mormon men wouldn’t make that choice,” she said.

Serving outside the stake and ward

In his fulltime work life, Romney showed that his commitment to serving others extended beyond those in his ward or stake. His religious values came through in business decisions – sometimes trumping opportunities for financial gain.

Robert Gay, who was once a managing partner at Bain Capital, the venture capital firm Romney founded, recalled how Romney refused to put investment dollars into a deal with Artisan Entertainment because he didn’t want to profit from R-rated films.

But of greater note to Gay - who once served on the Boston stake’s high council with Romney - was something Romney did for him in 1996.

After Gay’s 14-year-old daughter went missing for three days in New York, Romney shut down Bain Capital in Boston and flew about 50 employees to New York to help find her.

The girl, who lived with her family in Connecticut, disappeared after going to a concert in Manhattan. Romney and the other Bain Capital executives put their “$1 billion investment firm” on hold, created a “war room” at a hotel, paid to print 200,000 fliers, set up a toll free hotline number and enlisted the help of a private investigator, the Boston Globe reported at the time.

They canvassed streets and talked to runaways. The girl was found in a New Jersey home, “dazed from a disorienting dose of a drug,” the Globe reported.

It’s not a story Gay likes to retell, though he did record a video testimonial for a campaign ad about it during Romney’s 2008 presidential bid and the story resurfaced in ads this election season, too. But Gay would rather offer other insights, including the time another Bain Capital partner suddenly fell very ill and was hospitalized. Romney was the first person to show up for a visit at Massachusetts General Hospital.

Gay managed an equity fund with Jon Huntsman Sr., father of another former GOP Mormon presidential, but is now serving the LDS Church. Gay called Romney “a devout Christian,” someone who has always been committed to “leading a good and purposeful life.”

Whether Romney’s next purpose will have him sitting in America’s highest political office is now up to voters.

And when they cast their ballots on November 6, friends like McBride said where Romney prays on Sundays should make no difference.

“The issues of his church are not the issues of this country,” he said. “Those are personal issues.”

soundoff (1,152 Responses)
  1. Ron

    Remember the facts that face us as voters in this election. Number 1 , the national debt is triple what it was when a no name Obama took office 4 years ago. Make all the excuses you want but that is not the past presidents fault unless bush has a ghost in the white house. Let's all get out and vote for the real financial wizard that will get this country back to the glory days.Vote Romney Tuesday ! The rest of you excommunicated Mormons take your whining to some other religious website !

    November 3, 2012 at 5:53 pm |
    • Frank

      Oh get real. Rmoney ain't no financial wizard. He's the worst sort of vulture capitalist and all he would do is enrich his own type.

      November 4, 2012 at 1:12 am |
  2. Daniella

    We each have our own faith and relationship with God. Only God will judge us in the end. I am not making my decision on someone's religion. Unless you haven't noticed our country is in an economic crisis. There are suttle improvements in different areas of the country but the country as a whole is at a standstill. If you haven't looked at the fiscal cliff details I recommend you do so. Remember the successful states are doing well due to a bailout that has left us all wondering how we will ever payoff the national debt of 6+ trillion dollars. We're all are going to have to pay it back mormon or not.

    November 3, 2012 at 5:37 pm |
    • Ellen

      Daniella, how dare you presume to speak for all of us. You presumptuous beotch.

      November 3, 2012 at 5:39 pm |
  3. sjlewis

    Reblogged this on Tea and Trivia.

    November 3, 2012 at 5:08 pm |
  4. pygalgics

    I thank God that our Presidents don't really believe all the religious nonsense they espouse.

    November 3, 2012 at 4:16 pm |
  5. Mutt Romney

    In a few short days, when I am elected President of these here 52 United States, I will immediately ask for the salvation of all sinners who have not embraced Joseph Smith, the Book of Mormon and the Church of Latter Day Saints. Next, I will deliver to the new American Mormon congregation the coordinates of my home planet, where I am a God as well as here. The present God, who has been portrayed as the Christian God on plant Kobol will be retired and the mythical Jesus stories ended.

    Next, I will instruct our Armed Forces to move in force to Israel and remove all peoples from that area and ship them to Diego Garcia as their new home; Jewish and Palestinian alike. Mormon Missionaries and Mormon Families will then immediately populate and rebuild this land as our ancestral home.

    Finally toward the end of my first day in Office as the President of the United States, I will use Executive Orders and repeal anything that smells of decency and humanity from the previous sinful Administrations. All government assistance will end immediately except to those Mormon driven businesses that stand prior to my election. All government mandated programs including Women's Rights of Choice and Voting, Welfare, Health Care, Legal Services, Student Loan Programs, NASA, Agricultural Funding, Foreign Assistance Programs, Affirmative Action Programs, Gay Anything Programs will all cease to be funded by the stroke of my pen. Finally, if any have not come to the Mormon fold by the end of my first day and have any debt, all property and possessions will immediately become the Government's. Anyone not complying with these Executive Orders will be detained and summarily sent to Northeastern China as Slave Labor to our Chinese Mormon Brothers and Sisters.

    I want to thank all of the Tea Party Members whose complete hatred and stand fast stupidity allowed me to shove aside those pesky Centrist Republicans and bring chaos to the forefront of American Politics when compromise might have been possible . While you all were bickering and complaining over issues that really did not matter, I have laid the complete foundation to rid America of anyone who is not White, Mormon, Straight, Obsessed with Work and Greed and completely malleable.

    Now I know you haters out there and you know who you are, will cry the blues over my changes. Be at ease, you will be at peace before long. If we can't get you into the Church before you pass, we can after Again thank you for a prosperous America and may I bless these great United States of America.

    Mutt Romney
    Paid for by the Church of Latter Days Saints

    November 3, 2012 at 3:30 pm |
  6. Ellen

    We are not a cult. Yeah we're different, deal with it. Don't hate us because you ain't us.

    November 3, 2012 at 2:00 pm |
    • Helen

      Ellen, we don't hate you, but we do think you must be pretty gullible and stupid to fall for that Kolob stuff and the rest of J Smith's fabrications, and given that Romney claims to have fallen for them too, no thanks. I won't vote for him.

      November 3, 2012 at 5:37 pm |
  7. kappello

    It made him a grown up, a man not a wah wah cry baby, blame everyone else like the current guy we have in now. It made him the kind of man that five years ago called for stiff sanctions on Iran, who saw the dangers, who postponed campaigning to bring relief to victims of a tragedy, the kind of person we ought to have in the WH.

    November 3, 2012 at 1:45 pm |
    • Ellen

      If a "man" needs fairy tales like Mormonism to make major decisions, no thanks. Have a nice trip to Kolob and hope your Magic Undies stay clean though.

      November 3, 2012 at 5:41 pm |
  8. Barbara

    Most people feel this "religion" is a cult.
    I did some research and WOW!! the things they teach.
    They think if you are a good Mormon you are God. Like giving the church million$ Romney acts like he's God. I don't go by what a person says- sociopaths know all the right things to say – they just don't feel it. Actions speak louder than words!!

    November 3, 2012 at 1:10 pm |
    • Ellen

      Mormons don't do or believe any of that. And let's look at this word "cult", you say most people (isn't that an extreme and ignorant generalization?) believe us to be a cult. The definition is: cult/kəlt/
      1. A system of religious veneration and devotion directed toward a particular figure or object. *ummm as Christianity, Islam, Judaism (shall I go on?)?*

      1. A relatively small group of people having religious beliefs or practices regarded by others as strange or sinister *because 13 million people is such a small group*
      Just let us be, we are trying to freaking love everyone but you all make it SO HARD.

      November 3, 2012 at 1:58 pm |
    • steacher

      Very sad how misinformed you are. You do need to check your facts. You have been grossly misinformed regarding Mormonism. The church's name is The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints because they are followers and believers of Jesus Christ. Mitt Romney like other true believers of that faith try to live the principles and teachings of Jesus Christ.

      November 4, 2012 at 1:07 am |
    • steacher

      Oh and that Kolob thing, shhhh. We try to keep that quiet.

      November 4, 2012 at 1:16 am |
  9. Denise

    A Mormon Lady, you may be willing to accept your second-class role in your cult, with its ceiling on what women can be, but I and others do not. It is the bravery that had roots in the suffrage movements more than 200 years ago that has brought us forward to some semblance of equal rights today, and yet there is still a long way to go. No way will I support Romney in his and his cult's efforts to claw away women's rights that have been gained over centuries of struggle and suffering.

    November 3, 2012 at 10:44 am |
  10. Lord Golob from Kolob

    Rumor has it around Kolob these days that our boy Mittens Rmoney is going to lose the election. However, we aren't quaking in our Koloboots or soiling our Magic Underwear now, not when we have our fluffer Abinadi working so hard for us with his comment stuffing and linkspamming.

    November 3, 2012 at 10:34 am |
    • steacher

      you are highly misinformed and totally unfamiliar with the teachings and beliefs of Mormonism. No woman in the faith catches on to a man's coattails, but rather walks as a partner in life. check your facts before spouting hate.

      November 4, 2012 at 1:10 am |
    • Frank

      steacher, looks like you copy and pasted to the wrong post this time. Better improve your hit rate or you won't be getting your check from the Rmoney campaign.

      November 4, 2012 at 1:14 am |
  11. petmd

    The right wing comments always me of the movie "Elmer Gantry"

    November 3, 2012 at 7:39 am |
  12. Ron

    I just hope all voters remember this tuesday that we are voting for the person that we truly believe can get this country back on track. We are certainly not voting for any specific religion. Religious bigotry has no place in this electon ! The most important question to ask yourself Tuesday before you vote is this " am I better off today than I was 4 years ago ? " I am pretty sure I know the answer to that question from most Americans !

    November 3, 2012 at 12:01 am |
    • Jen

      Ron, problem is, most Americans could not give you a reasoned, accurate assessment of their own well being, whether from financial, health, or other metrics. Historically, most people also think they are worse off than previous generations, when mostly that isn't the case. Furthermore, many of the problems in the economy now are the result of previous administrations, not the present one.

      That aside, Romney's policies will lead to greater inequalities between rich and poor, by design, and also to a major step backward in women's rights. Those are good reasons not to vote for Romney.

      November 3, 2012 at 10:31 am |
  13. End Religion

    Mormons disavowed polygamy to gain statehood. So, they ignored what they felt was "religious law" for secular law in order to gain power. The end game for any religion is to gain the power to become a theocracy, so they can revert to religious law.

    November 2, 2012 at 11:55 pm |
  14. dzmanderson

    I can't ever be a Mormon first and foremost above any other reasons is Mormon doctrine. second is because I'm a person of color and I don't hate myself. Any person of color who are Mormon has some level of self hate going on. Any religion teaches that you are the way you are because you are cursed is vile. Any religion that teaches that if you are a faithful follower your reward in the after life is to be transformed in to a Anglo Saxon, Causation Angel is just wrong. If you being a person of color and believe this rubbish and strive for this reward is plain sad.”

    November 2, 2012 at 9:02 pm |
    • Abinadi

      The gospel of Jesus Christ is for everyone. The Book of Mormon states, “black and white, bond and free, male and female; … all are alike unto God” (2 Nephi 26:33). This is the Church’s official teaching.

      People of all races have always been welcomed and baptized into the Church since its beginning. In fact, by the end of his life in 1844 Joseph Smith, the founding prophet of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, opposed slavery. During this time some black males were ordained to the priesthood. At some point the Church stopped ordaining male members of African descent, although there were a few exceptions. It is not known precisely why, how or when this restriction began in the Church, but it has ended. Church leaders sought divine guidance regarding the issue and more than three decades ago extended the priesthood to all worthy male members. The Church immediately began ordaining members to priesthood offices wherever they attended throughout the world.

      The Church unequivocally condemns racism, including any and all past racism by individuals both inside and outside the Church. In 2006, then Church president Gordon B. Hinckley declared that “no man who makes disparaging remarks concerning those of another race can consider himself a true disciple of Christ. Nor can he consider himself to be in harmony with the teachings of the Church. Let us all recognize that each of us is a son or daughter of our Father in Heaven, who loves all of His children.”

      Recently, the Church has also made the following statement on this subject:

      “The origins of priesthood availability are not entirely clear. Some explanations with respect to this matter were made in the absence of direct revelation and references to these explanations are sometimes cited in publications. These previous personal statements do not represent Church doctrine.”


      November 2, 2012 at 9:50 pm |
    • Lord Golob from Kolob

      Rumor has it around Kolob now that our boy Mittens Rmoney is going to lose the election. However, we aren't quaking in our Koloboots or soiling our Magic Underwear now, not when we have our fluffer Abinadi working so hard for us with his comment stuffing and linkspamming.

      November 3, 2012 at 10:33 am |
  15. Rummy Pirate Times-Dispatch

    "In Greed We Trust"

    In 1994, Bain invested $27 million as part of a deal with other firms to acquire Dade International, a medical-diagnostics-equipment firm, from its parent company, Baxter International. Bain ultimately made nearly 10 times its money, getting back $230 million. But Dade wound up laying off more than 1,600 people and filed for bankruptcy protection in 2002, amid crushing debt and rising interest rates. The company, with Bain in charge, had borrowed heavily to do acquisitions, accumulating $1.6 billion in debt by 2000. The company cut benefits for some workers at the acquired firms and laid off others. When it merged with Behring Diagnostics, a German company, Dade shut down three U.S. plants. At the same time, Dade paid out $421 million to Bain Capital’s investors and investing partners.

    For 15 years, Romney had been in the business of creative destruction and wealth creation. But what about his claims of job creation? Though Bain Capital surely helped expand some companies that had created jobs, the layoffs and closures at other firms would lead Romney’s political opponents to say that he had amassed a fortune in part by putting people out of work. The lucrative deals that made Romney wealthy could exact a cost. Maximizing financial return to investors could mean slashing jobs, closing plants, and moving production overseas. It could also mean clashing with union workers, serving on the board of a company that ran afoul of federal laws, and loading up already struggling companies with debt.

    Marc Wolpow, a former Bain partner who worked with Romney on many deals, said the discussion at buyout companies typically does not focus on whether jobs will be created. “It’s the opposite—what jobs we can cut,” Wolpow said. “Because you had to document how you were going to create value. Eliminating redundancy, or the elimination of people, is a very valid way."

    Bain closed GST Steel plant in 2001 laying off 750 workers.

    Controlling share owner Bain Capital closes BRP plant (Southern Illinois) so the 340 jobs there could be outsourced to Mexico.


    November 2, 2012 at 4:04 pm |
  16. Mitt Romney

    A woman's place is in the home, man is the master !

    November 2, 2012 at 3:53 pm |
    • Lord Golob from Kolob

      Don't tell them the truth like that Mittie or we'll never take over and get our pre-Venus comfort station. Not that truth is your style anyway, but shape up or you'll have some serious Magic Underwear laundering to do come Wednesday. Know what I mean...

      November 2, 2012 at 5:21 pm |
    • steacher

      Don't know where you get your facts, but maybe that is how you run your life. Woman are not considered to be subject to any Master except our Savior Jesus Christ.

      November 4, 2012 at 1:16 am |
  17. Denise

    A vote for Romney is guaranteed to be a vote that will hurt women's rights. Mormons treat women like chattel.

    November 2, 2012 at 12:48 pm |
  18. Lord Golob from Kolob

    Rumor has it now that our boy Mittens Rmoney is going to lose the election. However, we aren't quaking in our Koloboots or soiling our Magic Underwear now, not when we have our fluffer Abinadi working so hard for us with his comment stuffing and linkspamming.

    November 2, 2012 at 11:17 am |
  19. donner

    Because nothing says women's rights like a religion based on polygamy.

    November 2, 2012 at 11:03 am |
    • Denise

      Indeed, the Mormon church has a particularly poor track record in regard to rights and equitable treatment of women. A vote for Romney is unlikely to be positive for women's rights.

      November 2, 2012 at 12:49 pm |
    • Rummy Pirate Times-Dispatch

      And a poor track record for the rights of anyone who was not the straight-laced white male. Of course Mormons have conveniently changed their outward stance on various issues – always when it has become politically necessary.

      November 2, 2012 at 4:03 pm |
  20. recovering Republician

    A vote for Romney is a vote for Corporatism and ultra, ultra conservatives views on women. It's hard for me to believe how so many women will vote for this guy. Women's rights in the Morman philisophy don't exist. A women is to have children, clean the house, make the dinner and provide for the man. Women are elibible to be married at 14 and usually are arranged. The Only help a morman wife has is the assistance from the man's other wifes. See wikipedia on Romney to really get an insight. People are drawn to romney as he is a good talker, much of it, talk only they are desperate and without facts.

    November 2, 2012 at 10:22 am |
    • Denise

      I hear you.

      November 2, 2012 at 12:50 pm |
    • Mormon boy

      I am a Mormon male, and yes, you may think that I know nothing of the problems of women, but I can guarantee that I know more about women in the church than you do. First off, polygamy was denounced by the church in the late 1890s, and any polygamists around today are not affiliated with the church at all. Most women that I know through the church have jobs, and if they don't it is only because they have a child under 2 or 3 years old. Sure, women are allowed to be married at 14, but so is every other young girl in the country with parents permission. I have never heard of a Mormon girl getting married younger than 18, which is perfectly fine, as when I look around I see non-Mormon 17 year olds getting married, and even getting pregnant. In summary, most of what you said was based off of facts from the 1800s.

      November 2, 2012 at 3:56 pm |
    • Denise

      Mormon boy, your indoctrination into your cult of se.xism shows very plainly in the words that you've used. First, kindly get with the times or at least 50 years ago, and stop refering to young adult women as "girls". Second, the fact that polygamy was ever santioned by your church, and then that your church changed its stance, are both glaring faults with your religion. In the second case, it shows that your god got it wrong the first time, and that your doctrine is neither perfect nor unchanging.

      Here's hoping your money-grubbing member of your se.xist cult that is so degrading to women loses the election. Keep your Mittens off RMoney.

      November 2, 2012 at 4:41 pm |
    • A Mormon Lady

      I am a Mormon female and was baptized more than 30 years ago. I have never been treated as second class since I became a Mormon. The men, usually the priesthood holders never at any occasion look down at us. In fact, they treasure our opinions and service. Can you imagine a church without any female members? Some women in and out of the church often criticize the church that they are not given the opportunity to be Bishop or any higher priesthood callings. I often ask myself this question too. I was called to lead women in a women's only organization within the church. I would never want to be the Bishop. In fact, if the church allows women to be in this position, I would gladly reject it. Just imagine having to listen to all the problems of more than 100 people and being a woman, having to keep my mouth shut since I am not allowed to talk to other members about other member's problems. Do you know how difficult it is for a woman to do? There are of course other reasons, such as having to spend at least more than 8 hours on Sunday attending meetings and meeting the needs of the congregation, etc. why I would reject this calling. Yes, I am proud to be a Mormon female. We also have to take into consideration that men or should I say women too are not perfect. We learn from our mistakes and grow to be a better person.

      November 3, 2012 at 9:36 am |
    • Lord Golob from Kolob

      Mormon boy, love your cross-dressing job. Good one. You didn't fool us in Kolob in that dress but maybe as A Mormon Lady you can catch Mitt's coattails and sneak into a cushy life in the White House as his wife #7...

      November 3, 2012 at 10:38 am |
    • Denise

      A Mormon Lady, you yourself may be willing to accept your second-class role in your cult, with its ceiling on what women can be, but I and others do not. It is the bravery that had roots in the suffrage movements more than 200 years ago that has brought us forward to some semblance of equal rights today, and yet there is still a long way to go. No way will I support Romney in his and his cult's efforts to claw away women's rights that have been gained over centuries of struggle and suffering.

      November 3, 2012 at 10:45 am |
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About this blog

The CNN Belief Blog covers the faith angles of the day's biggest stories, from breaking news to politics to entertainment, fostering a global conversation about the role of religion and belief in readers' lives. It's edited by CNN's Daniel Burke with contributions from Eric Marrapodi and CNN's worldwide news gathering team.